A short guide to the first three Famous Five adventures. There are some spoilers if you haven’t read the books yet.
FIVE ON A TREASURE ISLAND, 1942
The Location: Kirrin Bay. The Kirrin Bay area has belonged to Aunt Fanny’s family for hundreds of years though much has been sold off; leaving just Kirrin Cottage where Fanny, Quentin and George live, Kirrin Island and a farm a little way off. Kirrin Bay has a lovely beach and many fishermen live and work in the area. Kirrin Island features a mostly ruined castle and a sunken shipwreck that had been captained by a Kirrin ancestor.
The ‘Baddies’: An un-named man who calls himself an antiques collector who tries to trick the Kirrin family out of their island in order to discover the treasure for himself. He has at least one friend helping him out.
Significant other characters: Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny who are initially taken in by the antiques collector, and Alf the fisher boy who had been taking care of Timmy for George.
The Plot: This is the first time that Julian, Dick and Anne have been to Kirrin and at first George is not pleased to see them. By making friends with Timmy and showing generosity and kindness the three are able win over George. The five visit Kirrin Island, and on one visit a fierce storm throws up the old wreck. An exciting treasure map of the island’s dungeon is found, but the antiques collector manages to buy this from Uncle Quentin. It’s then a race for the five to find the treasure before the men do. It’s only thanks to George’s cleverness and Dick’s bravery that this story has a happy ending.
My favourite parts: Julian’s kindness in offering to share ice-cream with George if only she will share Timmy and her island with them, as well as the excitement of exploring the wreck and the dungeons.
FIVE GO ADVENTURING AGAIN, 1943
The Locations: Mostly set in Kirrin Cottage, as it is winter-time and there is a lot of snow. Also important is Kirrin Farm, the farm still owned by the Kirrin family.
The ‘Baddies’: The four children have a holiday Tutor, Mr Roland who takes an interest in Uncle Quentin’s work. George hates him from the outset – he doesn’t like her beloved Timmy for a start! Mr Roland is aided by two so-called artists, Mr Wilton and Mr Thomas.
Significant other characters: Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny who are again taken in by the bad guys. Mr and Mrs Sanders are an older couple who live at Kirrin Farm, and provide rooms for the two artists.
The Plot: While exploring Kirrin Farm House Dick finds an old parchment which looks like a treasure map. Julian shows Mr Roland the map, as some of it is in Latin, and infuriates George. Uncle Quentin bans Timmy from the house to punish George for her behaviour towards Mr Roland. After Christmas they plan to visit Kirrin Farm to look for the secret way but George refuses to go with Mr Roland. They don’t find anything, though the two artists help after being introduced to Mr Roland. When the group return to Kirrin cottage, George claims the tutor had lied about not knowing the artists. Timmy starts coughing at night, and as he is outside in a snow covered kennel George sneaks him into her father’s study to warm up. That same night some of Uncle Quentin’s papers are stolen, and some of his test tubes smashed. While George is being interrogated in her father’s study she realises that the entrance to the secret way begins in Kirrin Cottage. She is sent to bed for the rest of the day, but Julian follows Mr Roland and sees him handing papers to the two artists. Kirrin Cottage is snowed in, and Mr Roland is ill in bed so the five decide to explore the secret way. It takes them to Kirrin Farm where they find the papers in one of the artist’s rooms, but the artists take chase. Thank goodness for good old Timmy!
My favourite parts: George being proved right about Mr Roland, and the secret spaces and passages at Kirrin Farm.
FIVE RUN AWAY TOGETHER, 1944
The Locations: Another Kirrin-based story taking place at Kirrin Cottage and on Kirrin Island.
The ‘Bad Guys’: The Stick Family. Mrs ‘Ma’ Clara Stick is temporarily hired as a cook at Kirrin cottage and soon the shifty Mr ‘Pa’ Stick shows up too. An unseen relative Sarah Stick is also implicated in the Stick’s bad deeds.
Significant other Characters: Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin – though Fanny takes ill and is taken to hospital by Uncle Quentin, so they are absent for most of the story. Edgar Stick, the annoying son of Mr and Mrs Stick. And one other who I won’t mention as it will give too much away!
The Plot: The dour Mrs Stick, slovenly Mr Stick, immature Edgar and nasty dog Tinker make the Five’s life very uncomfortable at Kirrin Cottage, even going as far as trying to poison Timmy. George tries to run away to her island, but Julian catches her, and they all decide to go. While looking for a place to stay on Kirrin Island they find a trunk full of unexpected items on the wreck. Soon they realise they are not alone on the island – the Sticks have turned up, bringing with them luxuries from Kirrin Cottage. The Five take Edgar prisoner, and when they figure out what the Sticks have been up to they need to navigate their way through the dungeons to make a daring rescue.
My Favourite parts: The highly amusing scene where the children frighten Edgar to reclaim some of the things from Kirrin Cottage, as well as when they capture him from right under his parents’ noses. Also, there are some great moments where Julian stands up to the Sticks before they ‘run away’.
Part two of the Famous Five synopsis will be coming soon, and as always let us know what you think of this post!